NEW YORK (Reuters) - How do you follow up an award-winning first television season about an elderly man transitioning to a woman?
Make season two even riskier, says Jill Soloway, creator and director of “Transparent”, which arrives on Amazon.com’s streaming platform on Friday.
The drama-comedy starring Jeffrey Tambor as a divorced father of three adult children who comes out as transgender kicks off the new season with a big family wedding.
But not everyone in the extended Pfefferman clan is happy.
“In this season, people are facing consequences a little bit,” Soloway said. “They are getting everything they ever wanted and are realizing it’s not that simple.”
Maura Pfefferman (played by Tambor) struggles with reactions from the wider world to her transition, confronts people from her past and finds a new love interest, played by Angelica Huston.
Life also is far from breezy for Maura’s children, with a new baby on the way, ruptured marital ties and their own sexual identities to explore.
“One person transitioning in a family makes it so everybody has to begin a journey of becoming themselves,” Soloway said. “One person might be left out, who isn’t moving as quickly as everybody else. One person might be way ahead of everybody.”
“Transparent” took popular culture by storm when it was first streamed in 2014, winning multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards.
Although the acclaim surprised Soloway, whose show was inspired by the transition of her own father, it only encouraged her to try new things, including flashbacks to the Berlin of 1933.
“The fact the show has resonated with so many people - people who don’t even think about queerness or who aren’t Jewish or who are just loving the show because it’s funny and about a family - is totally wonderful and feels very surreal,” Soloway said.
“If we were trying to replicate ... it would have been nerve-wracking. Instead we took all the positive regard and said, ‘OK, we have to keep being in our risk space... What is scary? What will feel new? What feels shocking? What feels like I’m learning?’” she said.
The casting of Tambor, rather than a transgender woman, in the lead role has been criticized by some in the trans community but Soloway defends the choice.
Since Tambor, the actor, is not going to take hormones, future seasons of “Transparent” may help cast light on the challenges of those who transition in later life.
“There are a lot of late transitioners, in their 60s or 70s, who actually don’t do surgery, don’t do hormones, who never pass and come off more as gender queer or gender non-conforming rather than as a woman, and that may be Maura’s plight because of the casting of Jeffrey,” Soloway said.
“It doesn’t mean they are not beautiful, they’re not human beings, or that they shouldn’t be able to use the bathroom when they go to the mall.”
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bill Trott